Rome’s temple of Vesta would have been opened on this day in History. Vesta, famous for being a Goddess of fire and the hearth—the very thing that warmed the homes and hearts of Rome–happened to be one of their oldest Goddesses.(Same as the Greek’s Hestia.)
Vesta had her own Vestal Virgins too, who kept an eternal fire lit inside her temple located in Lavinium. It was prophesied that if the fire was ever allowed to go out, great catastrophic horrors would befall Rome.
Interestingly enough, at one point Vestal Virgins became as strict as Catholic nuns. Unlike the virgin priestess before their time, they ended up being actual brides to the spirit of Rome, vowing never to marry. In fact, towards the end of their importance (before Christianity came) they partook in many of the same ceremonies that nuns would later adopt. They even had their hair shaved off to ‘limit’ their magical womanly powers.
This was not always so…with Vestal Virgins and other Virgin priestesses of earlier times and cultures. In fact, the only thing Virgin meant was that the woman was unwed—not untouched. Their vows were at one time consummated in the temple, to the deity of Palladium, under sacred rituals which were heavily secretive. These Vestal Virgins were praised for their magical and mystical powers….not asked to conceal them.
The ritual sealing their vows was overseen by a Priest called Pontifex Maximus, which stood for creating a bridge between the God of Heaven and the Mother of Earth (Vesta). A sacred joining between the Vestal Virgins and Palladium would then occur.
And the Vesta Virgins were also encouraged to use their magical connections with the goddess and of their genders. How things changed, though, as time went on.
Sometime after the Vestals became changed and restricted, came an even greater threat. For once Christianity came and Rome converted, they were greatly persecuted. During the 4th and 5th centuries, they were robbed of their temples, and even forced to allow their sacred fires to go out. Their treatment was horrific and some would say more terrible and sad than the converting and or destroying of their great temples. Vestal Virgins lost their places, their purpose, their homes, their endowments, their freedom from taxation, and all other privileges and respect.
Quote: Their Christian enemies feared them as mysterious and magical; they did not understand them and did not want to do so; they wanted only to see them destroyed.–J.H. Smith D.C.P. 149–Barbara G. Walkers The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets–page 1046-1047.
Remember above when I said the Priest was called Pontifex Maximus? Well the word Pontifex was actually taken and used by the Christians after they took over. They shortened the word and made it Pontiff, which became a synonym for their title POPE.
Also, today marked as the Nones of June in Rome.
Want more? Ancient Calendar.